“I can see it now….” Mick said, pushing his reading glasses up from the brink of his nose. His voice, removed, an echo. Though we were feet apart.
“What?” I said. Returning from numbingly staring at a ketchup speck that was living on the corner of my ceiling.
“…your week ahead will be filled with introspection. Are you being honest with yourself?”
“What do you mean?” My throat, coughing up the sentence.
“You tell me?” Mick said, raising his right eyebrow before breaking into a slight smirk. “It’s hocus. I mean, are they even who they say they are?”
“Who?” I said. Staring down at the lukewarm coffee in my cup. My finger, flicking the handle. My toes curl one another as my legs cling to the chair they rest on.
“Miss Neewollah, Astrologer and Psychic Medium.” Mick chuckled. “You believe it?”
“Maybe she is not really who she says she is. I do believe in those that can see the future.”
Mick shook his head and laughed. He sat across from me reading the newspaper, he continued to read his stars aloud. He knew it delighted me.
Today I only half-smiled, looked down at my cup and took a sip of coffee.
I cleared my throat to disrupt his reading.
“How did ketchup get up there?” I inquired, pointing at the speck I was staring at, moments ago.
“I don’t know.” Mick said, briskly and briefly before turning the page to read the weather report.
“Well aren’t they all hocus.”
“They have research and data to back them.”
“Why don’t you just go outside and see the damn weather for yourself.” I lashed.
“What’s wrong? Mick said, lifting his eyes to meet mine. “You seem off this morning.”
I was off this morning, my pale legs holding onto sunrise, as a beam of light invited itself in. I had not wanted it to be so early. I had not wanted last night to happen.
“I just don’t understand how one speck of ketchup could get up there?”
Mick laughed lightly. And ran his hand along my leg. I moved it, almost instinctively.
“You’re seriously mad about a speck?”
“It’s a speck this week, and then what? A whole ketchup packet next?”
“You’re unbelievable.” Mick said, shaking his head. He closed the newspaper and stood up.
He walked a few feet to the—I couldn’t call it an island, it was more of an islet with a sink in the middle. Turned on the faucet, and ripped a piece of paper towel off the roll. He ran the paper towel under the water. He was staring at the stream. Motionless and muted.
“What time did you get in last night? I didn’t hear you.”
He was lying. Mick was tossing and turning when I tip-toed into the bedroom last night.
He held the wet paper towel at the edge of the sink and turned his body. He was now facing the window. We had one, rather, big window for what was a small kitchen. It held a fire-escape where we would occasionally go for a smoke. There were apartments stacked upon one another, across from us. If you were up at the right hours you caught the sun glowing in the center of them. But then, they were no longer buildings, they were little silhouettes, little shadows amongst a star.
I stared at him, and he stared at the silhouettes.
“Remember—” He began. “Remember when you met my mother, we drove up to visit her and you were nervous as hell.” He chuckled under his breath. “I ended up running into some buddies I knew years ago, hadn’t seen them in a long time.”
I wasn’t sure if I should tell him the faucet was still running.
“It had been a long time.” He said again, his voice a bit further away. “I went to get a beer with them and you were pissed off at me. Remember how mad you were? You were mad I had left you alone with her.”
“It was the first time I met the woman.” I interjected, sharply.
“And you called profusely.” He was still laughing lightly. “Only till you realized my goddamn phone was left in my bag. And do you remember what happened?”
“You ended up in the hospital because you were drunk and smashed your fist into a glass pitcher of beer. “
“Won fifty bucks though.” He said, smiling. Until he wasn’t smiling anymore, until he stopped.
“And do you remember what you said?”
He was looking at me now, but this time I didn’t want him to be.
“You said you felt it—you told me you felt something was wrong and you came rushing into the hospital like a mad woman.” He let out a puff of air. “You were crying because you thought something worse happened—and I could see it in your eyes you were scared.” He was talking faster now. “You were scared, you were scared you were going to lose me, I saw it in those damn eyes. You haven’t been scared to lose me in a long time. I haven’t seen that look in a long time.”
He held a moment on that sentence, I could see his thoughts roaming romantically on that sentence, as though he were no longer in our kitchen, but rather in a dream, an unpleasant dream.
“You looked at me, and you loved me and you were crying and you loved me, Tess. You loved me.” He said louder, but not yet screaming. He started shaking his head. “You told me that you knew something was wrong, you said you felt it in here.” His finger pressed into his chest.
He gave me a look, a look I had not seen before. Usually, he knows when I’m in one of my moods, one of my days, you know the days when you crawl into yourself. When socializing feels like a chore and you are not so much a person, but more so, a bundle of emotions floating around. Where suddenly you are aware of just how tiny—just how minimal you wave in comparison to everything else around you.
This was not the look he gave and this was not the mood I was in. For if it were, Mick would find some ridiculous dance he’d perform, until I was laughing, until my laugh were so large, so loud, I couldn’t possibly feel small. Today I could not disappear, I could not float off, I could not be brought back with a dance. I was not small today. I was a tsunami and I was about to make waves. I had hope if I could dig myself deep enough, he would not feel a splash. But if you looked close enough I was rising and you could spot the dirt tumbling right off of me.
I could feel all the blood swimming to my face, my heart practically rippling from my skin.
“I’m just tired.” I said, trying not to sound too cold, trying not to sound too distant, trying to find a bit of softness, a bit of warmth to offer.
“Probably tired from being out late with your co-workers.” He said, flatly. Depleted.
“What co-workers did you say you were out with?” he asked, eyes fixated on the window, the buildings finding their way to visibility. The sun was higher, there was movement on the streets now, the city was awake and he was making it a point not to look at me.
I started naming co-workers before he cut me off.
“And your phone died?”
“I left my charger at home, remember?”
I looked down at my coffee, I saw time wriggle itself away within my cup.
“And no one had one with them, huh?”
“I didn’t think to ask—”
“We’ve known each other a long time, Tess.” He paused, and I felt the world stop rotating.
“Last night...” He trailed off, “I felt something wrong. And you weren’t with your co-workers.”
The streets were alive. The faucet was running and I sat, watching my kitchen drown.